The Old Man and the Sea - by Ernest Hemingway
The Old Man and the Sea

"triumph and defeat, good will and heartbreak"


     I swear it was THIS big. In Ernest Hemingway’s novel, The Old Man and the Sea, we see the triumphs of perseverance and inner strength, along with the heartache of a poor fellow down on his luck.  Santiago, an aging fisherman, in a village near  Havana, Cuba, during the peak of Joe DiMaggio’s dominance of American baseball, had been experiencing one of his unluckiest stretches of fishing in his entire life.  But, on the eighty-fifth day he sets out with his normal resolution that today is going to be the day when he snags the big fish.

        When Santiago sets out to sea, nothing seems to be biting that day until the afternoon, far away from shore.  He feels a great tug on his line, and the adventure begins.  Hemingway shows us the old man’s perseverance and strength, which becomes even more evident in his epic struggle to capture the titan of fishes.  Marlins grow big, but the one Santiago catches is a colossus.  Man respects fish, and fish respects man, and together they fight for two whole days, until one can no longer go on.

        Throughout this battle, Santiago constantly doubts himself and his strength.  He fears that he will not be able to complete his task.  But then he remembers that DiMaggio played with a bone spur in his ankle, and he is inspired.  After two days being drug far out into the Caribbean Sea, the old man prevails and conquers this mammoth marlin.  Unfortunately the fish is too big to fit into the boat, so he decides to tie it to the side of his dinghy. He is also hundreds of miles out to sea, and the sea is a deadly and dangerous place to be, and she is rarely kind. In the end, the old man must fight with all his strength to save his colossal catch from the grasp of the sea.

        In this novella Hemingway relays the power of the human will to conquer anything that it sets its mind on doing.  The old man only hoped to beat the greatest fish he ever saw; whether he brought it home or not was not as much on his mind, as simply outlasting the beast and defeating it.  He treated this fish as a friend, not a foe, and respected its power immensely, and set his sight on returning home with the knowledge in his heart that he won.  The figurative language in this novella is simple but powerful.  The symbolism is remarkable.  While a short read, Hemingway’s lack of chapters makes this story a non-stop torrent of action and struggle, triumph and defeat, goodwill and heartbreak.

   - Drew R.



"the timeless struggle of fighting with all your body can endure"


     Have you ever wanted to read a book that has you hanging on the edge of your seat, wondering what will happen until the very end? Ernest Hemingway accomplishes this goal in The Old Man and the Sea, a story about the timeless struggle of fighting with everything your body can endure until there is nothing left to be done. In this book, the old and wise fisherman is Santiago and the young boy who believes and trust in him over any one else's opinion is Manolin.

           The Old Man and the Sea is a compelling story that any one would love to read. It begins with an old fisherman who has been unlucky for eighty-four straight days and not caught a single fish. However, on the eighty-fifth day Santiago catches a fish so large it will not fit inside of his boat, and it take almost three days to calm him down enough to strike and kill his prey. This shows a great challenge, for the fish is just as strong as Santiago, if not stronger. He has to continually pull on the ropes, keeping them as tight as possible without causing them to snap and let the fish and his hard work go forever. The thick, heavy ropes cut into his hands from holding them and the only source of protein and strength he has is the raw fish he catches and eats while the big fish is being still and calm. However, on the three day long journey back to shore the unwanted happens and leaves Santiago heart-broken.

           I would eagerly recommend this book for its simple plot and relaxed characters and its ancient theme of self endurance. This novel also intertwines Hemingway's life throughout the story as though he is the fisherman; one of the few times that Hemingway was truly at peace was when he was hunting or fishing like Santiago. Santiago never gives up on his journey nor does he boast or brag when he returns home. He is humble and appreciative for everything he has and everything he receives. He enjoys the bare and basic simplicities of life. This simple story is sure to entice a reader of any age and hold them hostage until the end.

   - Leslie P.



"The old man is defeated but not destroyed."


     Have you ever wanted to read a book that has you hanging on the edge of your seat, wondering what will happen until the very end? Ernest Hemingway accomplishes this goal in The Old Man and the Sea, a story about the timeless struggle of fighting with everything your body can endure until there is nothing left to be done. In this book, the old and wise fisherman is Santiago and the young boy who believes and trust in him over any one else's opinion is Manolin.

           The Old Man and the Sea is a compelling story that any one would love to read. It begins with an old fisherman who has been unlucky for eighty-four straight days and not caught a single fish. However, on the eighty-fifth day Santiago catches a fish so large it will not fit inside of his boat, and it take almost three days to calm him down enough to strike and kill his prey. This shows a great challenge, for the fish is just as strong as Santiago, if not stronger. He has to continually pull on the ropes, keeping them as tight as possible without causing them to snap and let the fish and his hard work go forever. The thick, heavy ropes cut into his hands from holding them and the only source of protein and strength he has is the raw fish he catches and eats while the big fish is being still and calm. However, on the three day long journey back to shore the unwanted happens and leaves Santiago heart-broken.

           I would eagerly recommend this book for its simple plot and relaxed characters and its ancient theme of self endurance. This novel also intertwines Hemingway's life throughout the story as though he is the fisherman; one of the few times that Hemingway was truly at peace was when he was hunting or fishing like Santiago. Santiago never gives up on his journey nor does he boast or brag when he returns home. He is humble and appreciative for everything he has and everything he receives. He enjoys the bare and basic simplicities of life. This simple story is sure to entice a reader of any age and hold them hostage until the end.

   - Zach H.



"about courage in the face of defeat and pride in the fight"


     Hemingway’s classic novella, The Old Man and the Sea became a classic when it won the Pulitzer Prize in 1953. This relatively short, action packed adventure is a fun read. I would recommend this book to anyone who hasn’t already read it, even though it is more of a masculine book. The reader can easily pick up on its symbols and themes. Two of the main themes Hemingway creates in the novel are courage in the face of defeat and pride in the fight, even if it leads to defeat.

            The story is set in the early 1900’s on the shores of Cuba. An old Cuban fisherman named Santiago finds himself on the verge of homeless with only a small shack for shelter and no food. Out of luck, he goes eighty-four days without catching a fish. Nevertheless, he sails solo in his small skiff miles from shore, hoping for a big catch. He fails to bring with him food, water, and extra supplies. He has brought only paddles, a knife, a harpoon and several coils of fishing line and has not prepared for the unexpected: a big catch. It is not long before he hooks a fifteen-hundred pound marlin! But that is only half the battle; the trouble has just begun.

            Even if you do not particularly enjoy reading, I think you will enjoy this book. Hemingway makes it an easy read through his simple, yet effective style. The plot moves smoothly and doesn’t contain any rabbit chases. The sentences are short, sweet, and to the point. The reader can pull a lot of meaning out of a small amount of words; this is what makes Hemingway so great.

         Just as in Hemingway’s other works, the main protagonist (the old man) is a humble person of courage and conviction. When the old man pulls in a tuna  early in the journey he “hit him on the head for kindness and kicked him.” Soon after the old man hooks the marlin and feels its fight and passion, he says “There is no one worthy of eating him from the manner of his behavior and his great dignity.” The reader is able to pull out many life lessons through the actions and words of the old man. I enjoyed  reading this novel and plan on reading some more Ernest Hemingway works in my near future.

   - Tony C.



"not a page turner, but actually pretty good"


     The Old Man and the Sea is story that centers simply on an old man and the sea.  People who steer clear of this book because it’s a classic may miss an important lesson.  The story follows the experience of the old fisherman Santiago, who lives off the coast of Cuba.  For eighty-five days straight he has caught no fish. On top of this, his life was not good to begin with since he lived in poor shack of a house whose fine qualities include a dirt floor and remnants of his dead wife.  Then, because he has this bad fishing record, his close friend, a boy who he taught to fish now fishes with another boat. Despite all the problems, the old man is determined to overcome and Hemingway uses his struggle to show readers the importance of persevering.
          
        Hemingway’s story of endurance comes to be one small story that will only at best help a few readers see the importance in the perseverance.  I personally did not believe the book to be a page turner.  The story is about an unlucky fisherman who is just fishing.  This story does not come close to having the exciting action, plot twists, or many of the other qualities that make a really good book good.  The only suspense within the book is will the old man continue or break the fishless fishing streak that he has been having recently. 

        It can also barely be called an actual full length story since the reader is thrown into the story and can only sit back and watch a story unfold in a single very small chapter in the old man’s life.  The reader does not have much time to become close to the character because the story will end leaving without a whole lot insight.  Besides these little flaws the story is actually pretty good.  It is a short and easy read that turns out to be just a little bittersweet tasting.  The language is simple and everything is understandable except for the small amount of Spanish used every once and a while, which is mostly explained.  So all in all if a reader wants Hemingway The Old Man and the Sea is a good choice.

   - Eric N.



"I liked this book because of its structure and simplistic wording."


     Ernest Hemingway, the author of The Old Man and the Sea, likes to depict people whose courage and honesty are set against the atrocious ways of society and in the midst of the confrontation, they lose all optimism and faith. A classical novella, The Old Man and the Sea, displays emotional sentiment virtually throughout the story. This is a heroic story that is perfectly written and that is filled with perseverance, pride and friendship. This novella mostly takes action at the sea.

    Santiago, the old Cuban man, goes for eighty-four days without catching a fish. His buddy, Manolin, strongly believes in the old man that he can catch a fish. Manolin has been deprived of going with the old man fishing because the old man has the worst luck. The two of them like to talk about baseball in their conversation. Santiago’s favorite baseball player is the great DiMaggio.
   
     On the eighty-fifth day, Santiago goes sailing far beyond the island's shallow coastal waters and ventures into the Gulf Stream. Like always, whenever he throws the line that has the bait fixed to it, a fish would eat whatever is attached to that line and rapidly move away. The story describes a battle which tests the old man's skill to suffer to the limit. It was as if perseverance was in the man’s blood. At noon, this particular marlin catches on the line and actually moves the skiff along. The strange man points out that the fish was two feet longer than the skiff. During some time, when the line was steady hard, Santiago’s left hand got cramped. He disgustingly looks at his hand and asks it how it is doing after eating fish that he caught earlier. 
   
    While weariness hits him, he remembers the time when he and an African American went one day and one night arm wrestling. By remembering this event, he gave himself confidence. At daylight, the old man defeated the African American and became known as “The Champion.” This memory effectively shows that the old man has sustained before and can still endure the encounter with the enormous fish.

    During the whole story, the old man wishes that the boy was with him to see this magnificent fish. He has only three things that are his brothers- his two hands and the fish. He greatly admires this marlin but at the end, he pities the great fish that he had hooked. On the third day of the struggle, the fish circles around the boat which means exhaustion. This was the time for the old man to strike into the fish.

    Hemingway effectively shows his objective by describing an old man against society (the fish and the sea). Frankly, this simple book is mostly about fishing, friendship, and endurance. I strongly encourage anyone who enjoys to fish to read this novella. Its suspenseful climax really lures the reader to finish the book. I liked this book because of the structure on how it is written and its simplistic wording.

   - K.Shaker



"You can get a sample of Hemingway's style without having to read a long, hard novel."


     Ernest Hemingway wrote The Old Man and the Sea while he was in Cuba in 1951. In this book the main character is an old man named Santiago, a fisherman in a small village near Havana, Cuba. It is set in the late 1940’s. In the beginning of the book the old man is in an eighty four day streak of not catching any fish. He goes so long with no fish that the parents of his assistant, Manolin, decide that their son needs to be on a different boat even though the boy likes the old man better than he likes the other fishermen. The boy still helps the old man while he is in port but he goes out to sea by himself.

      One day the old man tells the boy that he will go far out into to ocean in hopes of catching a gigantic fish. After a few hours with little luck, the old man suddenly hooks the biggest marlin he has ever seen and starts a three day fight with him. After he gets the fish close enough to the boat he harpoons it. The fish is so big that it will not fit inside the boat, so he ties it to the outside of the boat and sets sail for town.

     I believe with this is over all a good book. This book has a really simple plot. The book would have been better if there were more people on the boat while he was fishing. With more people it is more entertaining because there are more things going on. But if there were a more complicated plot then the book probably would have been longer. One of the reasons I liked this book was that it is so short and it is about fishing which is more interesting than some other things you can write a book about. Ernest Hemingway is a good writer and this book is nicely done. This book is easy to read, well written and generally good. I think anyone who likes fishing would enjoy this book. I also think everyone should read this book to get a sample of Hemingway’s writing style without having to read a long hard novel. I would assume this book is more appealing to someone who needs to read a book than a long novel with sentences that cover half a page. In conclusion, this is a good book and everyone should read it.

   - James V.



"You never leave his side so it seems you are experiencing the battle too."


     In The Old Man and the Sea Hemingway's minimalist writing style gives his novel the “less is more” appeal.  The main character, a Cuban fisherman who has mixed his Spanish culture with various aspects of the American society, is old school and tough.  Instead of using a motor boat, he uses a small wooden boat practically half the size of any self respecting marlin.  When he snags the huge fish, it turns into an agonizing battle.  As the day turns into night he braces himself for the epic fight between the two interlocked and insanely determined souls. 

     This novel portrays a man who will not let himself give up. His hard set determination is inspiring.  It makes you ask yourself, “If anyone can even conceive a person, let alone an old man, to do something of this sort, then how can I ever tell myself that I can not do something?”  The old man has qualities that everyone wants but very few will ever obtain.  This is what makes the old man such a likeable character. 

The storyline of this novel is short and is one dimensional.  There is no jumping back and forth of characters or of time and place; there is only the present.  This allows the reader to have a sense of connection.  You never leave his side so it seems you are experiencing everything right as he does more than in most books.  Overall The Old Man and the Sea was an excellent book to read.

   - Jake H.